Mohun Bagan hold Mahindra, Sporting Goa beat Air India in Durand Cup
New Delhi, Nov 21 (UNI) Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan held NFL champions Mahindra United to a 1-1 draw in a much anticipated Group I quarter-final league tie in the 119th Osian's Durand Cup football tournament here today.
Captain Jose Ramirez Barreto put Bagan ahead in the 27th minute but the jeepmen came back strongly after the breather to equalise in the 48th minute through Samson Fernandes in a nail-biting match.
Earlier in the other match of the group, a late goal by Macpherlin Dudu (72nd minute) ensured last edition's runners-up Sporting Club De Goa beat Air India 1-0 and collect their first points in the tournament.
After today's match, Air India are out of the tournament having lost to Mahindra 1-2 in their first match. Mahindra and Mohun Bagan topped the group with four points each from two matches while Sporting Goa have collected three.
Mahindra play Sporting and Mohun Bagan take on Air India on Thursday to decide on who go to the semi-final.
Bagan began on a promising note and Mahindra had a close shave in the 25th minute when striker Dipendu Biswas's right footer from just outside the box was deflected towards the goal by Mumbai side's central defender Peter Siddiqui but an alert goalkeeper Amit Nandy dived to his left to clear for a corner.
But two minutes later (27th), captain Barreto fired the first salvo for the 16-time champion Kolkata side.
A Chinmoy Sarkar corner kick from the right landed inside the penalty area and Mahindra midfielder Rauf Khan failed to clear the ball which fell on a lurking Barreto's feet and the Brazillian unleashed a powerful right footer to find the back of the net (1-0).
Mahindra had a golden chance to equlaise in the 38th minute when Bhola Prasad fired a low right footer from a Filipe Azevedo pass but Bagan goalkeeper Sangram Mukherjee blocked it diving to his left and former India captain S Venkatesh shot over the rebound.
The second half belonged to Mahindra, though devoid of openings and the reigning NFL and Federation Cup champions restored parity as early as the third minute of the second half.
Samson Fernandes headed in a James Singh corner from the right which found the net after kissing the head of diving Barreto who made a last ditch effort to save it.
Barreto made a valiant effort in the 77th minute when he sent a well-measured header from a Bijoy Basfore lob into the rival box but missed the top corner of the goal by inches.
The action-packed match did also have its share of confusion when the coaches of both the sides and some players attributing the Mahindra equiliser to Barreto self goal and hence corner kick taker James Singh taking the credit for the goal.
The first half of the Sporting-Air India match did not have much to write about with most of the action concentrating in the midfieled though the Goan side dominated.
Sporting, who lost their first match to Mohun Bagan on Sunday, siezed the initiative after resumption and the second half saw several openings from the Goan side.
In the 63rd minute, an Earnest Jeremiah neat placement from a Rajesh Meetei pass went just wide.
Two minutes later, Dudu chested down a Rajesh aerial ball but his left footed volley sailed over the bar.
Dudu made amends in the 72nd minute, firing a left footer from a Bello Rasaq pass to score the all important goal.
Again in the 86th minute, a Sporting counter attack saw Dudu sending a through pass to an unmarked Jeremiah but the latter shot wide.
Then in the 87th minute, after collecting a Jeremiah low cross, Dudu got the better of the rival goalkeeper but Air India central defender A Martin cleared the ball before Dudu could take the shot.
Tomorrow's matches: Army XI VS Dempo Sports Club 1300 hrs East Bengal VS JCT Phagwara 1500 hrs UNI PDS DH GC1902